For many college students, Accounting 101 can be irrelevant, confusing and, well, a little dull. A gifted professor, however, can bring the subject to life – making it relevant, understandable and even interesting.

Likewise, many adults hold the perception that a regulatory agency website, by nature, will be a little dry. But the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) has crafted an engaging and informative resource worthy of “favorites” status in the bookmarks toolbar.

With the launch of its redesigned website, the MSRB not only removed the intimidation factor some might associate with a regulatory agency, the agency also clearly considered the needs and interests of its three primary audience segments: investors, issuers and dealers.

“Overall, we wanted to make the site a better resource for all participants in the municipal securities market,” says Jennifer Galloway, MSRB Chief Communications Officer. “We wanted it to be user-friendly so that anyone can visit and find objective and reliable information.”

For starters, the website does a great job of clearly identifying the Board and its mission, which is to “protect investors and the public interest through a fair and efficient municipal market.”

And, as Jennifer Galloway explains, providing access to information is fundamental to this investor protection objective.

With that said, the site delivers. News, actions, and updates affecting the municipal bond market and its participants take center stage on the site’s new home page. The tabs at the top of the site make it easy to locate specific content, from MSRB rules to market data.

As a navigational bonus, the MSRB also provides “pre-packaged” sub-menus geared to each of its three target audience segments.

Investors with limited exposure to the municipal bond market can find a great collection of materials that clearly explain how the municipal market works, while more savvy investors can reference bond disclosure documents, fact sheets and municipal market statistics. The MSRB’s Electronic Municipal Market Access system – EMMA – provides actual municipal bond trade history information. (See sidebar for more information about the MSRB’s EMMA.)

Issuers can access guidelines for continuing disclosure requirements, as well as tools to help them submit disclosure materials. Dealers can reference the site for professional qualifications and standards, primary market filing requirements, and other compliance forms.

While certain applications require registration, all content is available to all visitors through a variety of intuitive paths. According to Jennifer Galloway, the redesign process spanned roughly 18 months, and incorporated input provided by focus group participants.

Provides Access to Municipal Bond Disclosure, Pricing Information

In March 2008, the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board launched the first phase of its Electronic Municipal Market Access system – or EMMA. A one-stop portal for municipal disclosure information, EMMA provides free online public access to official statements for new municipal bond issues, as well as real-time pricing data for outstanding municipal bonds.

For more information about EMMA and how to use the system, see the following related articles:

EMMA: One-Stop Portal for Municipal Bond Disclosure (July 10, 2008)

EMMA Update: Phase Two Provides Increased Access to Issuer Information (August 19, 2008)

Dawn of a New Day: MSRB’s EMMA Advances Disclosure in Municipal Bond Market (July 14, 2009)